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Advance College Credit at Park University to Contestants In Selected Competitions

April 11th, 2014

Park University is collaborating with SkillsUSA to provide advance college credit at the 50th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) to contestants for their performance in selected competitions.

Founded in 1875, Park University is a private, non-profit institution fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The University offers 59 undergraduate degree and certificate programs, which include nine associate degrees, 46 bachelor degrees, and four certificate programs. Annually, the University serves over 22,000 students at our Parkville, Missouri, flagship campus, online, and at campus centers in 21 states.

To see the list of applicable competitions, the selected courses and apply for advance college credit, visit  https://app.park.edu/SkillsUSA/form.aspx. The cost per credit hour is $85. If you have questions, please contact  Wakisha.Briggs@park.edu or by phone to 816-584-6859.

Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship Reminder

April 11th, 2014
Through a donation from the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Fund, SkillsUSA and the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Alumni Association are offering a $500 scholarship to a high school SkillsUSA student in memory of Sharon Melton Myers. The Sharon Melton Myers Memorial SkillsUSA Scholarship fund will provide graduating high school SkillsUSA members of this year’s graduating class the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.
Candidates can nominate themselves. All nominations must include two letters of recommendation from any of the following individuals: a) instructors; b) SkillsUSA advisors; c) State Association Director; d) Community leader.  A nomination form can be downloaded from SkillsUSA’s website at https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/r7x1q3/.  Please note that incomplete applications, those missing requested information and appropriate signatures, will be disqualified and not be evaluated. Only high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship. Nominations must be postmarked by April 30. If you have questions, please contact Karen Beatty (703) 737-0624, kbeatty@skillsusa.org.

Executive Director’s Report: April 1, 2014

April 1st, 2014

Connecting STEM, Manufacturing and Technician Service
On March 7, I spent the day with our good friends at STEMconnector in Washington DC. The day-long meeting was held at KPMG, just blocks from The White House. STEMconnector continues to gain momentum and build powerful connections with top leaders from business, government and education. Just two days prior, the organization held an event for Women in STEM at the U.S. Capitol, and it was attended by 67 Congressmen, Congresswomen and Senators. Edie Fraser, STEMconnector CEO, absolutely loves SkillsUSA, and she made sure I had a speaking opportunity and was able to inform the 200-member organization about SkillsUSA. We also agreed to host a meeting of STEMconnector at the 2015 NLSC. STEMconnector has published a book “Top 100 CEOs in STEM” and has now published the “Top 100 Women in STEM.” It is a very young organization, but it has become very powerful within corporate America in a short period of time. I am excited that SkillsUSA is a partner, and we are in the middle of the conversation.

Another result of the meetings with STEMconnector has been a connection with their “Life Skills Committee.” Al Bundshaft from Dassault Systems (USA headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts) leads this committee, and they are seeking best practices in integrating life skills (what we call employability skills) into STEM education classrooms. Al and I connected and the Dassault team, met with Karen Ward, state association director from Massachusetts and me, and we visited SkillsUSA Chapters last week in the Boston area. Our PDP and leadership program is heavily integrated in these schools, and I know they came away with a solid knowledge of how our program and curriculum fits the bill as one of the best practices they were searching for.

On March 8, National High School Vice President Laura Gouillon from California joined me in Peoria, Illinois for a whirlwind round of presentations to a variety of manufacturing and community groups. SkillsUSA Foundation member and former Board president Cameron Ferguson of Caterpillar arranged for the visit, and it was a great opportunity to inform a very diverse group of organizations about SkillsUSA. On Sunday, Laura and I spoke to the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning (OLLI) at a gathering at Bradley University. OLLI is made up of retired executives from area business and industry, and community organizations are very supportive of the group. I provided a 20-minute overview of SkillsUSA from a national perspective, and Laura delivered an incredible presentation about her experience in “SkillsUSA, STEM and CTE.” Laura used powerful examples of how her academics have been enhanced through real-world learning and how SkillsUSA has helped her grow to the point where she now has aspirations of becoming an electrical engineer. She has applied to several top universities and has already been accepted at USC with a full-tuition scholarship. She is a great example of a SkillsUSA leader and a wonderful role model for youth.

On Monday, we had a full day with several groups at CAT. We spoke first with the global dealer support group, providing some of the same information from the previous day’s presentation. We then had a great meeting with all the CAT volunteers from the Peoria corporate offices who support SkillsUSA at the national and state levels. Our next stop was at the CAT Visitors Center where we spoke to the Specialized Manufacturing Group and several area school administrators and teachers, including the Chairman of the Peoria District 150 School Board. This was a 90-minute presentation with several questions and lots of interaction. We also had the advisor and several student leaders from our college chapter at Illinois Central College participate in the meetings. Following lunch, we traveled to another CAT facility and had a one-on-one conversation with Gwenne Henricks, CAT’s Vice President of Product Development and Global Technology. Gwenne is also CAT’s Chief Technology Officer and an electrical engineer, so she and Laura had a great conversation.

We then traveled to Illinois Central College in East Peoria where we met the SkillsUSA chapter officers and toured the campus, including the CAT “Think Big” dealer technician training program. It’s always great to see our students in action, especially when one of our key partners is supporting the school in a “Big” way. And, finally, Cameron made sure that Laura had a chance to experience the “Big Iron” as we ended our visit at the CAT equipment demonstration and training center. Laura got to see and climb aboard some of CAT’s large trucks and loaders. She was very excited to get an up close and personal view of what heavy equipment looks like. What a thrill for any teenager! You can see some of the photos of this experience on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153892007000591.1073741901.22208255590&type=1.

A BIG thank you goes out to Cameron Ferguson and the CAT team for such a great opportunity and experience for both one of our student leaders and for me personally!

Applying Skills Internationally in Pursuit of Access to Clean Water
The Business Partnerships and Development office is working on a project for SkillsUSA to collaborate with the World Plumbing Council to field a multi-disciplined team of three students (plumbers and engineers under the age of 26) to compete at the Water Innovation Challenge in Singapore, June 3 – 5, 2014. The theme of this pilot competition sponsored by WorldSkills Foundation is “new water–ways in which to create and control water supplies in specific international community environments.”

Teams will participate in a series of hands-on design challenges and practical tasks. The competition will take place over three days as the teams develop a series of real and innovative solutions for emerging water and sanitation problems in two developing countries: Nepal and Bangladesh.

The challenge’s impact on developing countries looks promising. Design toolkits created by winning teams during the competition will be made available to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international development organizations to support innovative individual plumbing and sanitation development projects around the world.

 

We look forward to keeping you informed as SkillsUSA college/postsecondary students are confirmed and prepare for the challenge.

Record-setting Membership Year
SkillsUSA is enjoying a record-setting membership year with 309,590 members to date. This number represents the highest level of paid membership in the organization’s history as well as the largest growth in membership since school year 2007-2008. A great deal of work has been completed over the past several years by the entire staff, and the organization as a whole that has lead to this substantial increase in membership over previous years. We believe this record-setting membership year can be attributed to working hard to understand our customers and meet their needs. We have provided a new and improved membership kit, a new hotline dedicated to answer membership questions, membership registration site enhancements, new educational resources, state association director workshops and new advisor toolkits. The following chart shows members served since 2005:

Membership Chart

 

College/Postsecondary Reach on the Rise
The College/Postsecondary Task Force met last November and the action plans developed at that time are now being put into motion. SkillsUSA’s new business partner, CBC, is organizing, filming and producing a video and poster series that will help to raise awareness in the college/postsecondary target market. The theme of the series is how SkillsUSA has been instrumental in preparing members to get jobs, a better job or to make more money. The video production will take place in Nashville, Tennessee the first week of May. Alumni members from the Tennessee college/postsecondary division have stepped up to participate. Several business partners will also be lending their voices to the cause and will appear on camera in support of hiring SkillsUSA members. Special thanks go to CBC for sharing their talents and expertise and to James King, SkillsUSA Board President and Vice Chancellor for the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) and Chelle Travis, SkillsUSA Tennessee college/postsecondary State Director, for committing their time and energies to this project.

Highlights

  • Air Products has agreed to sponsor the 100% Advisor Session during conference.
  • The updated What is SkillsUSA? video, has been completed and is being duplicated. It will be a sales item.
  • Niki Clausen and Heidi Walsh recently returned from Kansas City where they met with the national officers to practice for the NLSC.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship Reminder

March 31st, 2014

Through a donation from the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Fund, SkillsUSA and the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Alumni Association are offering a $500 scholarship to a high school SkillsUSA student in memory of Sharon Melton Myers. The fund will provide graduating high school SkillsUSA members of this year’s graduating class the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.

Sharon Ruth Melton Myers was an active member of the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Chapter from 1985 through 1988. During this time, Sharon participated in local, state and national SkillsUSA activities. She served as a local officer in 1986 and 1987, Tennessee State Secretary in 1986-87 and National President in 1987-88. Sharon also participated in the Chapter’s Opening and Closing Team in 1986, 87 and 88. Following graduation from McMinn High in 1988, Sharon continued as an active supporter of SkillsUSA, serving as a National Officer Trainer for several years. Sharon was active in establishing a Tennessee SkillsUSA Alumni Charter and Constitution while attending David Lipscomb College in Nashville. Sharon was totally committed and dedicated to the ideals of SkillsUSA and actively worked for the advancement of this Youth Leadership Organization.

A judging committee comprised of Catherine Melton and National SkillsUSA staff will review the nominations and select the national winner.

Candidates can nominate themselves. All nominations must include two letters of recommendation from any of the following individuals: a) instructors; b) SkillsUSA advisors; c) State Association Director; d) Community leader.  A nomination form can be downloaded from SkillsUSA’s website at https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/r7x1q3/.  Please note that incomplete applications, those missing requested information and appropriate signatures, will be disqualified and not be evaluated. Only high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship.

Nominations must be submitted by April 30. If you have questions, please contact Karen Beatty 703-737-0624, kbeatty@skillsusa.org.

AFSA Scholarship Program

March 20th, 2014

Our friends at NCCER made us aware of this great scholarship opportunity available for high school students from the American Fire and Sprinkler Association. The scholarship is available for high school seniors. Participation in a fire-related trade area is not necessary to enter.

Winners will receive a $2,000 scholarship payable to the winner’s college/university or certified trade school in the United States providing the student enrolled by Fall 2014. The deadline for applications is April 2, 2014.

Find all the details here:  www.afsascholarship.org/hsinformation.html.

Executive Director’s Report: March 15, 2014

March 15th, 2014

Connection to the Walmart Foundation
Mike Rowe and his staff continue to be great advocates for SkillsUSA. This past fall, we were invited to participate in the USA Science and Engineering Festival in April in Washington, D.C. The Festival is billed as the largest STEM show in the nation and expected attendance is around 350,000 over a three-day period. Mike Rowe will sponsor a “Trades Pavilion” at the Festival, and he really wanted SkillsUSA students to be a part of the action. With our new focus on the skilled worker shortage and making the connection from our CTE programs to STEM education, our vision was to have SkillsUSA students perform live, hands-on skill demonstrations as part of the Festival.  However, we needed a sponsor to support student travel, housing, meals and equipment. Mike Rowe’s team stepped in and connected me directly to the Walmart Foundation and I was asked for a proposal and budget. We spent most of a weekend putting it together and SkillsUSA was approved for a grant for $11,050 to take care of student, advisor and staff expenses to showcase our students at the Festival. Walmart also joined the Festival as a major sponsor, and we will have our own space, adjacent to the Walmart booth. Most of our skill demonstrations will focus on manufacturing and we have also asked for other skills to be demonstrated. This is a great opportunity to open the door to the Walmart Foundation for future support. I know they will fall in love with our students and our program once they experience it.

The connection to the Walmart Foundation comes due to Mike Rowe’s partnership with them. Perhaps you saw it aired during the recent Winter Olympics, but you may not have seen the full version – the following link will take you to a 60-second commercial narrated by Mike Rowe entitled “I am a Factory.” It’s aired by Walmart, and they have pledged $250 billion (with a B) to American manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years! Once you view this video, I think you will see the great connection that SkillsUSA has with Walmart’s manufacturing/American jobs initiative. And Mike Rowe’s voice is not too bad on the commercial either. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OQcoDQq3-o&list=PLs6zAwIMDe3PixJhPPTT3Ks55ZoS-uxhN&index=2.

Skills Shortage Support Information
As we look forward to the FY15 strategic plan, we have developed a new focus on the skilled worker shortage and STEM education. But, we’re not waiting as work in these areas has already begun. At the 2013 NLSC, we had a top executive from The Manpower Group attend as a Special Guest. Manpower has just published the research report from the 2103 Global Talent Shortage Survey. For the seventh year in a row, skilled trades workers represent the number one category of jobs that employers worldwide are finding difficulty filling. And, technicians are, once again, in the top five, coming in at number four.

As we look at the work of SkillsUSA in helping with these pipeline issues, we also look at the reasons employers are having difficulty finding the necessary talent:  48 percent  of employers cited the lack of technical competencies (hard skills) and 33 percent cited the lack of workplace competencies (soft skills). This data comes from 40,000 employers across 42 countries and territories. Therefore, we believe it’s not much of a stretch to say that SkillsUSA is certainly a part of the solution, particularly, when we look at the hard and soft skill needs of these employers. You can see a short video summary of the report data at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu0ADHgFeKI and the full report with other interesting facts about the global shortages at this link: http://www.manpowergroup.us/campaigns/talent-shortage-2013/pdf/2013_Talent_Shortage_Survey_Results_US_lo_0510.pdf.

Visit to Cleveland and from DC on to Baltimore
The week of February 17th, I visited the corporate headquarters of Lincoln Electric in Cleveland, Ohio. The trip was partially to assist a student member who is interested in pursuing a welding career (and I have some experience in that field from several years ago) and to also visit with Carl Peters and other Lincoln executives regarding our national partnership as well as our work with Lincoln and WorldSkills. We toured their manufacturing plant and had a great tour of the new Automation Division, a new initiative that involves custom robotic welding work cells for manufacturing and the welding simulators that Lincoln is now producing for welding training. I provided an overview of SkillsUSA for Lincoln’s newest young recruits who will lead the state and regional offices for the company.  Lincoln will also be working with the American Welding Society and participating in the USA Science and Engineering Festival in April in Washington DC.

Last week, I participated in a CTSO meeting and the ACTE National Policy Seminar in D.C. – see: https://www.acteonline.org/nps. From there, I traveled to Baltimore on Tuesday and Wednesday to work the SkillsUSA exhibit and to deliver the closing keynote address at to the HVACR and Mechanical Conference for Education Professionals at the Maritime Training Institute. There were nearly 200 of our high school and college HVACR instructors participating from across the nation. I recruited a few new instructors into SkillsUSA and continued our great partnership with all the HVACR, Plumbing and Mechanical trade associations that sponsored the event. To learn more about the event, go to http://www.instructorworkshop.org/conference+sponsors.aspx.

Highlights

  • On February 22, Kelly Persons had the opportunity to discuss how and why STEM-related education is an integral part of CTE during the Fairfax County, Va. Public Schools’ STEM H Expo at Chantilly High School.
  • Niki Clausen and Heidi Walsh recently returned from a successful visit to Kansas City, Mo. where they met with the national officers to plan for the SkillsUSA 2014 National Leadership and Skills Conference.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

Membership Report: March 2014

March 14th, 2014

We are pleased to recognize the state associations who have exceeded previous year membership by involving more students in their state programs this academic year. Involving more students and teachers in our student leadership organization provides endless opportunities for professional and personal growth. Congratulations to the following state associations and directors for exceeding last year’s overall membership.

  • Alabama, Myron Laurent, State Association Director
  • Alaska, Ray Jensen, State Association Director
  • Arizona, Carrie Wolf, State Association Director
  • California, Clay Mitchell, State Association Director
  • Connecticut,  Heidi Balch, State Association Director
  • District of Columbia, Ed Roebuck, State Association Director
  • Florida, Tyler Kercher, State Association Director
  • Georgia, Ashley Brown, State Association Director, High School Division
  • Indiana, Kelley Baker, State Association Director
  • Kansas, Becky Warren, State Association Director
  • Kentucky, Larry Johnson, State Association Director
  • Maine, Hal Casey and Rick Thomas, State Association Directors
  • Maryland, Charles Wallace, State Association Director
  • Massachusetts, Karen Ward, State Association Director
  • Mississippi, Andy Sims, State Association Director
  • Nebraska, Greg Stahr, State Association Director
  • New Hampshire, Kate Krumm, State Association Director
  • New York, Bruce Potter, State Association Director, High School Division
  • New Mexico, Bobbi Eichorst, State Association Director
  • North Dakota, Clarke Molter, State Association Director
  • Oklahoma, Darren Gibson, State Association Director
  • Oregon, Teresa Mankin, State Association Director
  • Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson, State Association Director
  • Rhode Island, Josh Klemp, State Association Director
  • South Carolina, Jackie Clarkson, State Association Director
  • Tennessee, Brandon Hudson, State Association Director, High School Division
  • Texas, Janet Conner, State Association Director, High School Division
  • Washington, Dennis Wallace, State Association Director, Bruce McBurney, Executive Director, High School Division
  • West Virginia, Kathy Gillman, State Association Director
  • Wisconsin, Brent Kindred, State Association Director, Lauri Domer, Assistant Director, High School Division
  • Wisconsin, Dale Drees, State Association Director, College/Postsecondary Division
  • Wyoming, Toni Decklever, State Association Director

As of today, March 14, national high school and college/postsecondary membership has reached an all time high at 308,917 and we are still counting.

Professional memberships and alumni memberships count, so, if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including you), be sure and submit them as soon as possible. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link: http://www.skillsusa-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.

I want to extend a big thank you to our state association directors, corporate members, state CTE directors, board and foundation members and staff who have worked tirelessly this year to promote the value of CTE and the connections and life changing experiences that students and teachers gain through student organization involvement.

Sharon Melton Myers Scholarship Opportunity

March 14th, 2014

Through a donation from the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Fund, SkillsUSA and the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Alumni Association are offering a $500 scholarship to a high school SkillsUSA student in memory of Sharon Melton Myers. The Sharon Melton Myers Memorial SkillsUSA Scholarship fund will provide graduating high school SkillsUSA members of this year’s graduating class the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.

Sharon Ruth Melton Myers was an active member of the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Chapter from 1985 through 1988. During this time, Sharon participated in local, state and national SkillsUSA activities. She served as a local officer in 1986 and 1987, Tennessee State Secretary in 1986-87 and National President in 1987-88. Sharon also participated in the Chapter’s Opening and Closing Team in 1986, 87 and 88. Following graduation from McMinn High in 1988, Sharon continued as an active supporter of SkillsUSA, serving as a National Officer Trainer for several years. Sharon was active in establishing a Tennessee SkillsUSA Alumni Charter and Constitution while attending David Lipscomb College in Nashville. Sharon was totally committed and dedicated to the ideals of SkillsUSA and actively worked for the advancement of this Youth Leadership Organization.

A judging committee comprised of Catherine Melton and National SkillsUSA staff will review the nominations and select the national winner.

Candidates can nominate themselves. All nominations must include two letters of recommendation from any of the following individuals: a) instructors; b) SkillsUSA advisors; c) State Association Director; d) Community leader.  A nomination form can be downloaded from SkillsUSA’s web site at: https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/r7x1q3/.  Please note that incomplete applications, those missing requested information and appropriate signatures, will be disqualified and not be evaluated. Only high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship.

Nominations must be postmarked by April 30. If you have questions, please contact Karen Beatty (703) 737-0624, kbeatty@skillsusa.org.

Bring $25,000 to Your Community – State Farm Neighborhood Assist

March 14th, 2014

Have you ever wanted to help your community with a problem but didn’t know where to start? Maybe you wanted to help fix up a run-down park or to help the impoverished in your community.  Now, YOU have the power to fix it. State Farm Neighborhood Assist wants to help identify and address key issues faced by consumers throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

State Farm Neighborhood Assist, a crowd-sourced philanthropic initiative, lets communities determine where grant funding is awarded, exclusively through Facebook. The application is short and simple, and I encourage you to learn more by visiting: https://apps.facebook.com/sf_neighbor_assist/ or by watching this short at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=easesPoLrVg. You, or someone you know, could be the catalyst for positive change for your community cause!

The submission phase is open until March 23, and each Facebook user who downloads the free application can submit up to three causes. Anyone living in Canada or the United States with a Facebook account is eligible to submit a cause. It’s better to submit early – a maximum of 4,000 submissions will be accepted. All you have to do is submit the cause; you don’t have to “run the program.” The cause must fit into the categories of safety, community development or education.

After the submission stage ends, the State Farm Youth Advisory Board (YAB), a group of college and high school students from across the country, will read and narrow down all the submissions to the top 200 finalists. What the YAB is looking for:

  • How much does your “Cause” focus on an unmet need in this community?
  • Why do you feel the $25,000 would address the unmet need?
  • How much of a lasting impact on this community would the proposal have?

Once the top 200 causes are identified, they will appear on the Facebook application to be voted on by you and your community. The voting stage will last from April 28 – May 16 and each Facebook user gets 10 votes every day. Winners will be announced on May 27.

Please share this amazing opportunity with your colleagues, friends and family and help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. Together, you and State Farm can help create safer, better educated and more engaged communities!

Here is a sample Tweet: Help our community become an even better place to live by submitting an idea for a #SFNeighborhoodAssist! http://st8.fm/bqr

SkillsUSA Graduation Regalia Available

March 14th, 2014

Be sure to recognize the hard work and achievements of your graduates with the gift of official SkillsUSA graduation regalia. SkillsUSA stoles, tassels and honor cords can be purchased now before the rush of graduation season sets in. Just go to: www.skillsusastore.org to order.


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